Gary Johnson on Energy & Oil

Libertarian presidential nominee; former Republican NM Governor


Man contributes to climate change, but no government fix

Johnson believes that it is NOT the proper role of government to engage in social and economic engineering for the purpose of manipulating the energy marketplace or creating winners and losers in what should be a robust free market. Such efforts have failed in the past. Preventing a polluter from harming our water or air is one thing. Deciding in Washington DC that one source of energy should be subsidized and others penalized is a different matter.

When it comes to global climate change, Johnson believes too many politicians are having the wrong debate. Is the climate changing? Probably so. Is man contributing to that change? Probably so. The important question, however, is whether the government's efforts to regulate, tax and manipulate the marketplace in order to impact that change are cost-effective--or effective at all. Given the realities of global energy and resource use, there is little evidence that the burden being placed on Americans is making a difference that justifies the cost.

Source: 2016 Presidential campaign website GaryJohnson2016.com , Jan 11, 2016

Federal regulation makes fracking, coal mining, & nuclear OK

Johnson, and the Libertarian Party, supports the use of fossil fuels, presumably because they would be supported by the free market. While Johnson has expressed concern about pollution from fossil fuel combustion, he has also said that he would not want the US to "turn their back" on these traditional fuels. He said "I'm going to keep an open mind on fracking," while reserving skepticism about its safety in relation to groundwater contamination. Johnson says that individuals' property rights trump companies' rights to mountaintop removal coal mining, but he thinks that the current regulatory regime is already adequately dealing with the issue.

Johnson has gone on the record as supporting nuclear power. He acknowledges that new nuclear facilities are not likely to be built under a true free market model as private underwriters will not cover nuclear plants' liabilities, but--contrary to libertarian principles--would consider letting the federal government cover the role as underwriter.

Source: CleanEnergy.org, "Where Gov. Johnson Stands on Energy" , Sep 18, 2012

Support renewables, but not with federal policy

Johnson seems to support renewable energy so long as the government does not play a special role in supporting its development. He is not opposed to renewable energy in theory, but seems to envision further technological innovation as the only driver of renewable energy deployment, rather than through policy mechanisms. In one virtual town hall meeting, Governor Johnson said that renewable energy could account for as much as 15% of the United States fuel mix in fifteen years, but that recent technological innovation does not indicate that number will be reached.

Johnson is supportive of energy efficiency so long as it is privately paid for, saying "the beauty of energy efficiency is that it needs no directive from a government central planner, because energy efficiency is cost efficiency, and Americans already have an incentive to cut costs."

Source: CleanEnergy.org, "Where Gov. Johnson Stands on Energy" , Sep 18, 2012

Cap-&-trade imposes costs with no environmental improvement

A clean and safe environment is critical to us and to future generations. Government's role in protecting that environment is a fundamental one of protecting us from those who would do us harm. That, however, does not require the government to "manage" the environment by attempting to reward or penalize us in order to direct our behaviors in the marketplace, in our homes, or in our lives. "Cap-and-trade" and other tax schemes, regardless of what they are called, will do little or nothing to improve the environment--while imposing costs we cannot afford.

Effective long-term environmental stewardship and conservation are impossible without a healthy economy and the freedom to make responsible decisions.

Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p.149-150 , Aug 1, 2012

Alternative energy good; ethanol subsidies bad

At his core, he's a free-market guy. Free markets for health care, for education, for energy. He talks about alternative energy (good) and ethanol subsidies (bad).
Source: Lisa DePaulo in GQ Magazine , Nov 1, 2011

Supports nuclear power

Q: Do you favor nuclear power?

A: Yes.

Source: Interview by Scott Holleran on scottholleran.com blog , Aug 21, 2011

Current policy prevents common-sense energy development

Q: As President, if you could enact any policy to fix the economy without congressional approval what would it be?

A: Change regulatory & enforcement policies that are preventing common-sense energy development. Millions of jobs would be created. Many other regulatory approaches can be changed as well to create certainty for the private sector. As Governor of NM I had the best jobs record of anyone candidate, but didn't claim to creating one job. Government does not create jobs.

Source: 2011 Republican primary debate on Twitter.com , Jul 21, 2011

No cap-and-trade; no taxing carbon emissions

He says he doesn't believe in cap-and-trade legislation, saying that "I do not believe that taxing carbon emissions is the way to go forward."

He also signed a law deregulating New Mexico's electricity market that allowed residential, small-business customers and schools to start shopping for their electricity supplier.

Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #9: Johnson , Jul 21, 2011

I accept global warming but not cap-and-trade

Q: What about climate?

A: I accept the fact that there is global warming and I accept the fact that it's man caused. That said, I am opposed to cap and trade. I'm a free market guy when it comes to the clean environment the number-one factor when it comes to the clean environment is a good economy.

Q: You don't think there's a policy response? It's making people richer that would help?

A: Good economies results in cleaner environment. That's been the history of the planet till this point.

Source: Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone Magazine , Jun 15, 2011

Voluntary partnerships reduce greenhouse gases economically.

Johnson adopted the National Governors Association policy:

Source: NGA policy NR-11, Global Climate Change Domestic Policy 00-NGA3 on Aug 15, 2000

Kyoto Treaty must include reductions by all countries.

Johnson adopted the National Governors Association policy:

If appropriate international commitments are established and are ratified by the US, the Governors believe implementation should be allowed to be achieved through cost-effective market-based activities, which account for scientifically verifiable and accountable reductions in greenhouse gas levels regardless of where the reductions are achieved. Any multinational emissions trading program must provide a flexible and workable framework that takes full advantage of market forces and maximizes international participation.
Source: NGA policy NR-11, Climate Change International Policy 00-NGA4 on Aug 15, 2000

Federal tax incentives for energy, with state decisions.

Johnson co-sponsored the Western Governors' Association resolution:

  1. Western Governors find that states must continue to play a pivotal role in electric power decisions. Specifically:
  1. We need to pursue a national energy policy that will result in a diverse energy portfolio:
  1. Energy efficiency and conservation: At a minimum:
Source: WGA Policy Resolution 01 - 01: Energy Policy Roadmap 01-WGA01 on Aug 14, 2001

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Page last updated: Oct 29, 2016